What lies frozen in the permafrost ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Hannes Grobe
A mysterious virus dating back 30,000 years has been discovered frozen in the Siberian permafrost.
Like something from the plot of an X-Files episode, scientists have been able to bring back to life a prehistoric virus that has managed to survive tens of thousands of years frozen in the ground.
While the newly revived virus is not believed to be harmful to anything other than single-celled organisms, concerns have been raised over whether other more deadly variants might one day be released as the planet warms up.
Of particular concern is the possibility that viruses that once plagued the Neanderthals might be capable of infecting humans now that our immune systems have lost lost the ability to deal with them.
"It is true that viruses will be archived in permafrost and glacial ice, but the probability that viral pathogens of humans are abundant enough, and would circulate extensively enough to affect human health, stretches scientific rationality to the breaking point," said marine virologist Curtis Suttle.
"I would be much more concerned about the hundreds of millions of people that will be displaced by rising sea levels than the risk of being exposed to pathogens from melting permafrost."
Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (31)
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